Friday, 22 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

In today's gospel reading Jesus summarized the entire law of Moses and its ritual requirements (there are all in all 613 precepts of the Torah, being the books of the Old Testament containing the Law of Moses) into two simple yet profound Commandments: the first (found in Deuteronomy 6: 5) being "you must love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength." and the second (found in Leviticus 19: 18) "you must love your neighbor as yourself".
It's interesting that these two commandments talk about love. Not service, submission, duty, finding of self, rejection of evil, etc., but love. IMHO Jesus is saying that the laws of God start with the fact that we must love God above everything else and the we must love our neighbors the same way we love ourselves. If we don't obey any other of God's laws with these two facts in mind then we break them all. But the Bible takes it further. Consider these verses:
1 John 4:8 - The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love
1 John 4:16 - God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him
1 Corinthians 13: 3 - If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit.
The above verses make it impossible for anyone to be a Christian without love in his/her heart and actions.
So how do we love? The problem with human love is that it easily becomes obsessive, possessive and as easily ended. Think about it. What good can come from obsessive love? Possessive love? Love which is here today and gone tomorrow? None (at least not good that lasts forever). That's why we need to love like God, and the only way to do that is to ask Him to help us do so, to draw from the source of that love- Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God. Thus to interpret the two Commandments as something we must prove to God is simply not right. No way we could love like that. Rather we need to start our everyday Christian life with a freely-bestowed experience of love from God, a love which because it comes from God unites us to God, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others.

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Taken from Wikipedia) Today we Catholics celebrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a devotional name used to refer to the physical heart of Mary, the mother of Jesus as a symbol of Mary's interior life, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for her God, her maternal love for her Son, Jesus, and her compassionate love for all people. Now why is Mary's heart so important? Let's look to the gospels. The gospels recount the prophesy delivered to Mary at Jesus' presentation at the temple: that her heart would be pierced with a sword. The gospel of St. Luke also records that Mary kept all the sayings and doings of Jesus in her heart, that there she might ponder over them and live by them.
Now some history. Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944 to be celebrated on 22 August. Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Queenship of Mary from 31 May to 22 August, bringing it into association with the feast of her Assumption. He also closely associated the celebrations of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

(Taken from Catholic Culture)
- Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar this feast was celebrated on May 31 and today was the feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is now celebrated on the Saturday following the Second Sunday after Pentecost.
- Pius XII, by his encyclical letter of October 11, 1954, granted the unanimous desire of the faithful and their pastors and instituted the feast of the Queenship of Mary, giving sanction thus to a devotion that was already paid by the faithful throughout the world to the sovereign Mother of heaven and earth.
- With the certainty of faith we know that Jesus Christ is king in the full, literal, and absolute sense of the word; for He is true God and man. This does not, however, prevent Mary from sharing His royal prerogatives, though in a limited and analogous manner; for she was the Mother of Christ, and Christ is God; and she shared in the work of the divine Redeemer, in His struggles against enemies and in the triumph He won over them all. From this union with Christ the King she assuredly obtains so eminent a status that she stands high above all created things; and upon this same union with Christ is based that royal privilege enabling her to distribute the treasures of the kingdom of the divine Redeemer. And lastly, this same union with Christ is the fountain of the inexhaustible efficacy of her motherly intercession in the presence of the Son and of the Father.

Today's Bible Readings (Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Here are the readings for today Fri 22 Aug:

Ezekiel 37: 1-14
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and placed me in the midst of the valley, and it was full of bones. He made me walk all around among them. I realized there were a great many bones in the valley and they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said to him, “Sovereign Lord, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and tell them: ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the sovereign Lord says to these bones: Look, I am about to infuse breath into you and you will live. I will put tendons on you and muscles over you and will cover you with skin; I will put breath in you and you will live. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. There was a sound when I prophesied – I heard a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to bone. As I watched, I saw tendons on them, then muscles appeared, and skin covered over them from above, but there was no breath in them.
He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, – prophesy, son of man – and say to the breath: ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these corpses so that they may live.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded, and the breath came into them; they lived and stood on their feet, an extremely great army.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are all the house of Israel. Look, they are saying, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope has perished; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and tell them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I am about to open your graves and will raise you from your graves, my people. I will bring you to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. I will place my breath13 in you and you will live; I will give you rest in your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord – I have spoken and I will act, declares the Lord.’”

Matthew 22: 34-40
Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”